An elderly man has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to put down his dog after a vicious attack left one man with 12 bites.

John Gardiner, of Manton Close near Marlborough, appeared in Swindon Magistrate’s Court on March 20 after his two springer spaniels George and Jack attacked a man outside his house.

The court heard how George the dog had been given a previous contingent destruction order after an attack in 2019, and the owner was ordered by law to keep his dog muzzled and on a lead at all times.

Gardiner, who is 77 years old and diagnosed with stage four cancer, had complied with the order for the last five years.

But on January 25, 2024, the elderly man was running late for a hospital appointment and forgot to shut his dogs away before opening his front door, causing the dogs to rush out in a vicious attack.

“The victim was a volunteer who had come to collect Mr Gardiner and take him to his hospital appointment,” said prosecutor Pauline Lambert.

“The dogs pushed past the metal gate and the victim’s first reaction was to get into his car away from them but he didn’t have time. He attempted to push them off and they jumped up and bit his arms.

“The victim, who described the dogs as vicious and nasty, received 12 bites on his body and bruising. His injuries were treated at A&E.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: John Gardiner's springer spaniels (not the same dogs pictured) left 12 bites all over the victim's body.John Gardiner's springer spaniels (not the same dogs pictured) left 12 bites all over the victim's body. (Image: Getty)

The incident lasted for only 20 seconds but the physical and psychological damage had already been done.

Defence lawyer Mr Collins told the court how Gardiner regularly muzzled his dogs and paid to walk them in a secure private paddock to avoid putting the public at risk.

"Since the incident, Mr Gardiner has reinforced his gate, installed a new post and added a latch to the door so the dogs can't push through.

"Both dogs are nine years old and he had had them since they were puppies. He described them as his 'shadows' and the dogs would regularly fetch things for him when he was unable to get them."

But chair of the magistrate's bench Jane Flew, described the incident as a "serious attack" and told Gardiner: "Following this incident, George must now be destroyed."

The pensioner, who was visibly emotional in the defendant's box, was also given a suspended prison sentence of four months, a new contingent destruction order for his other dog Jack, and ordered to pay a total of £439.

This includes £200 compensation to the victim, £85 prosecution costs and a £154 surcharge.